To the Editor…

by on May 26, 2015

Subject: Testing Libby Schaaf

I appreciate very much the attention you are paying to two of Libby Schaaf’s current quandries. I think there’s more to these stories which I hope you may find of interest.

Regarding her mandate, I wonder if she has much at all. Yes she won an election, but only about 40% of the electorate participated. Schaaf was opposed by more than ten challengers of whom at least three (Jean Quan, Dan Siegel and Joe Tuman) were serious and reasonably-well funded. Both Tuman and Siegel offered detailed plans for dealing with public safety and budget problems which Schaaf did not, and still has not.

No responsible local media took a serious look at what was at stake in last fall’s election in Oakland. Schaaf, the top fund-raiser, got most of her money from out-of-town, became the darling of critical Democratic Party functionaries including Jerry Brown. Enough said.

I think that the election actually further divided an already highly fragmented body politic in Oakland.

Schaaf is hardly a progressive in any usual Left Coast sense. She’s actually quite a budget hawk, relatively unconcerned about privacy matters (she supported the DAC security system before she saw the direction of the political winds) and generally highly risk-avoidant.

While a Council member she neglected the minority-dominated parts of District 4 (Laurel, Dimond) while attending closely to the concerns of upper-middle-class, mostly white Montclair.

Public safety isn’t simply a conservative or nonprogressive concern in Oakland. Black and other minority-community churches and other organizations have for years been demanding major reduction in the violent crime which puts such a burden on their families and especially their children.

Schaaf is going to have a big fight for the next four years. Her history, which has largely been as a functionary in City Hall, doesn’t suggest she has any better management skill than her predecessor Jean Quan or any better connection to the street than Quan’s  predecessor Ron Dellums.

It will be an interesting story. I don’t think it will go well for Oakland as a whole.

Filed under: Letters to the Editor